Consortium with UVM, GlobalFoundries wins recognition from White House as Tech Hub

A semiconductor chip is assembled in the University of Vermont's Device Characterization Lab, unveiled last week as a cooperative effort between UVM, GlobalFoundries and other partners. Photo courtesy UVM

National Designation Unlocks Potential for Up To $75M in Funding for Semiconductor Research

Vermont Business Magazine A consortium led by the University of Vermont and including GlobalFoundries and the state of Vermont has been designated as one of 31 Tech Hubs by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), unlocking the opportunity for up to $75M in federal grant funding to further research in semiconductor technology.

Advancing Gallium Nitride (GaN) Technology in the Greater Burlington Area was selected by the Tech Hubs program from nearly 400 applications. The aim of the program is to “strengthen U.S. economic and national security by catalyzing technology-based regional growth that enables the industries of the future to start, grow, and remain in regions across our country,” according to the EDA’s announcement of the designation, which corresponded with a live event hosted by President Biden on Monday.

“The consortium’s Tech Hub designation galvanizes UVM’s standing as a national leader in research and workforce development related to this vital technological space,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella. “We are deeply grateful to our partners in the consortium—GlobalFoundries, the state of Vermont and the Vermont State College System—for their collaboration and support helping establish Greater Burlington as a national center for semiconductor innovation.”

The EDA designation paves the way for the consortium to apply for Phase II of the program, which will culminate in award implementation grants totaling approximately $50-75 million to each of up to 10 Tech Hubs.

“Investment in American innovation and supply chain independence is essential to our nation’s economic security and global competitiveness. We appreciate the Biden Administration and Congress for investing in this area, and the EDA for recognizing the important role small, more rural states like Vermont will have,” said Governor Phil Scott. “We are very proud Vermont’s Tech Hub has earned this designation, demonstrating our state’s leadership and commitment to innovation and advanced technology. We look forward to deepening our role in this critical sector and supporting the creation of good paying American jobs that will help communities thrive across our state.”

“Innovation and creative cooperation have always been a major part of Vermont’s history,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Peter Welch, and Representative Becca Balint – Vermont’s Congressional Delegation. “Today, in this time of historically rapid technological advancement, Vermonters deserve every opportunity to be a part of the best of those innovations. We are glad to see this federally funded Tech Hub consortium come to Vermont and look forward to seeing all the good it will do for our rural workforce through the creation of good-paying jobs and improved economic and community development for people and towns across our state.”

GaN technology, and other emerging semiconductor materials, are being rapidly adopted by the region’s semiconductor industry and promise growth across the entire tech sector with unique research potential, growth in ancillary and supply chain companies, and new opportunities for the regional workforce and education sectors. The goal of the Vermont Tech Hub is to build and sustain a successful ecosystem for advancing GaN and other semiconductor innovations, and in the process, to grow the economy and economic vitality of the region and the state.

"GlobalFoundries looks forward to deepening our partnership with UVM, working together to realize the full potential of high-volume manufacturing of GaN on silicon chips, and to driving U.S. leadership in this emerging technology," said Ken McAvey, Vice President and General Manager of GlobalFoundries Vermont. "The CHIPS and Science Act has proven to be a successful catalyst for renewed enthusiasm, collaboration and investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, and the Tech Program will be a critical vehicle for advancing new technologies through development and into the marketplace."

The estimated global demand for GaN and related semiconductor solutions is growing, and the technology invites significant potential uses and offers advantages over current semiconductor technology—it adds speed, power, and efficiency. GaN has the potential for many applications, including high-frequency radio communications, power electronics, automotive electronics, aerospace applications, high-performance medical imaging equipment, and consumer electronics.

“We are happy to lead this successful consortium effort. EDA Tech Hub designation is an important step in our plan to build a successful innovation economy for Vermont—in the area of semiconductor materials and advanced chip design,” said Kirk Dombrowski, UVM Vice President for Research and Economic Development. “This work is part of UVM’s 21st century land grant mission—one that requires partnership and broad public and corporate engagement to unlock what we can do as a university and what we can do as a region.”

The CHIPS and Science Act signed into law in August 2022 authorized $10B in funding for the Tech Hubs Program. EDA has received $500 million—or 5 percent—of the authorized dollar amount and has designated 31 Tech Hubs and awarded 29 Strategy Development Grants.

President Joe Biden announces the awarding of 31 Tech Hub designations during a live event Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, at the White House. A University of Vermont-led consortium, Advancing Gallium Nitride (GaN) Technology in the Greater Burlington Area, was awarded one of the designations. Screen grab from video courtesy

At its core, the Tech Hubs Program is an economic development initiative designed to drive technology- and innovation-centric growth by strengthening a region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy critical technologies. The consortium’s regional vision is focused on the tech ecosystem that will emerge with the next generation of high-power, high-speed chips based on GaN. The northeast region has the partnerships, technology leaders, and research capacity to become a global leader in this technology.

The Tech Hub designation comes on the heels of last week’s launch of UVM’s new Device Characterization Lab, a partnership with GlobalFoundries with funding from the U.S. Department of Education aimed at driving semiconductor research and preparing students for key roles within the field.

“This designation only confirms what we have long known and taken pride in: Greater Burlington is the technology hub of Vermont,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said. “The forward-thinking minds and companies here have long driven tech advancement for our region and are emerging as ever greater leaders nationally.” 

About the University of Vermont

Since 1791, the University of Vermont has worked to move humankind forward. UVM’s strengths align with the most pressing needs of our time: the health of our societies and the health of our environment. Our size—large enough to offer a breadth of ideas, resources, and opportunities, yet intimate enough to enable close faculty-student mentorship across all levels of study—allows us to pursue these interconnected issues through cross-disciplinary research and collaboration. Providing an unparalleled educational experience for our students, and ensuring their success, are at the core of what we do. As one of the nation’s first land grant universities, UVM advances Vermont and the broader society through the discovery and application of new knowledge.

UVM is derived from the Latin Universitas Viridis Montis (in English, University of the Green Mountains).

Source: 10.24.2023. BURLINGTON – UVM